Other fathers would not have been as understanding or clever with their decision on punishment for their children. Bob Ewell, who has seven children, was not particularly a nice man. Constantly under the influence of alcohol and the fact that he was not the brightest man in the world would have seen him take a most different route in disciplining his children. In the first place, he probably would have denied to Mrs Dubose that it was his child, had it been one of the seven. Then it is a fair supposition that he would have used it as an excuse to take his anger out, physically, on one of his children. Remembering it became obvious he beat Mayella after seeing her kiss a Negro, Tom Robinson.
Arthur 'Boo' Radley was another child with a less than caring father, amidst all the speculation about Boo stabbing his father in the leg with scissors and what happened to him there did appear to be some truth. Mr Nathan Radley had Boo locked away in the basement of the courthouse but due to the damp down there they had to bring him back to the house. Instead of taking care of his son and finding a type of therapy to help Boo, Mr Nathan Radley simply kept his son locked away until he died. At this point, his other son, also Nathan Radley, took over the job directly and they kept Boo Radley away from the community.
Atticus' discipline methods were not the only things done differently by other fathers. The way Atticus spoke and treated Jem and Scout was different from that of the way other fathers did. Atticus would talk to Jem and Scout using the same language he used at his job, as a lawyer, and if they didn't understand something he explained it to them. Atticus never simplified anything he said, he treated his children as equals and showed them respect. By doing so, they showed him and others that same respect.
Bob Ewell did not appear to be much of a father when it came to any part of bringing up children, let alone his speech. Even in public he used slang and said inappropriate things in front of people. When asked whether he was the father of Mayella he said,
"Well, if I ain't I can't do nothing about it now, her ma's dead."
He also doesn't really seem to understand what Judge Taylor is saying to him when receiving a warning about comments he makes. This is not a good thing for his children as none of them go to school; he will influence them when he is at home.
Mr Nathan Radley is not really mentioned much in the novel and only says 'hello' or 'good morning' to the children occasionally. The picture formed of him is one of an introverted man who likes to keep his privacy and does not speak much. This is the total opposite of Atticus as he is a very friendly man who understands people and their needs and is known and liked around the town.
Bob Ewell, like Atticus, had to bring up his children without a mother to guide them. Though Atticus is a respectable man with a good job and is trusted around town, Bob Ewell relies on welfare checks for his family and even then he spends them on whisky and only feeds the children whatever he can shoot.
In the novel we learned that Atticus had the best shot of a gun in Maycomb County but he does not like guns and discourages Jem and Scout from any type of violence. This is not the case for Bob Ewell, after learning of the things he has done it seems a mixture of the whisky he drinks and his ignorance make him oblivious to the effects of any physical abuse he may induce on his children.
And though we know nothing of how Mr Nathan Radley keeps Boo in control it would be as logical a guess as any to suggest that he may use some sort of force to keep Boo in the house, although we do learn that Boo doesn't like the outside world much anyway.
The different styles of upbringing used by the fathers mentioned have produced very different results in the forms of their children. The way the parents act is a direct influence on the children, as they know no better than what they see at home. Mr Nathan Radley's upbringing of Boo has mad him a recluse to the world around him and Boo has followed suit by staying away from people and only going out at night, when everyone is asleep.
Bob Ewell's children, like him, are unhygienic children who seem to have no authority and who have no problems lying to get ahead. We see the major case of this when Mayella got Tom Robinson convicted after saying the beating her father gave her was Tom, raping her.
Atticus treated his children as equals and grown-ups by showing them respect and teaching them many lessons in life. Though they had no mother, the influence of Calpurnia, and later Aunt Alexandra, along with the way the children saw how people responded to their father helped in a positive childhood in which they overcame huge obstacles to turn out better than Atticus could have hoped for.
Mike McLoughlin 10R